At approximately 3 p.m. Wednesday, a student employee at Saint Mary’s College lost control of a College-owned golf cart and crashed into Angela Athletic Facility, David Gariepy, director of security at the College said. No one was injured in the accident.According to Gariepy, the student was attempting to park the golf cart when her foot slipped off the brake and onto the accelerator, causing her to smash into the glass door on the north side of the building.Gariepy said the College is working to attain an estimate of the damages. No estimate is available at this time. Gariepy said the College is planning to make repairs, though no timeline has been set.
One group of graphic design students will spend spring break helping South African refugees understand their rights through the “together +” anti-xenophobia campaign. Seven Notre Dame graphic and industrial design students will travel to South Africa over break. The educational and promotional campaign is supported by Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns, the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and CUSE. Junior Lynn Yeom said what started out as a project in her graphic design class took on much greater meaning — becoming a project to combat discrimination and violence against refugees. “We are trying to solve [a problem] in a graphic design way … an educational way,” she said. Yeom said there is great tension between the black South African community and refugees coming from other countries in Africa. “[Black] South Africans are blaming refugees, saying they are taking all the jobs and that [black South Africans] are not living better because of the refugees,” she said. To try and help ease this tension, students will use design as a means of promoting diversity, creating a variety of materials from informational booklets for refugees to a children’s book, Yeom said. Senior Kassandra Randazzo’s group is working on educating the refugees about healthcare. “Many refugees are not fully aware that the country guarantees them the same rights as native South Africans to fair and equal care,” she said. “We’ve designed materials that explicitly state what they are entitled to and have translated it into a variety of languages to ensure that the message reaches its audience.” Design professor Robert Sedlack and alumna Andrea Pellegrino visited Johannesburg, South Africa in October and began a relationship with the Kgosi Neighborhood Foundation, (KNF) which seeks to bring educational light into the lives of vulnerable children. The pair traveled to South Africa to conduct preliminary research and identify challenges faced by refugees that could be addressed by Notre Dame graphic and industrial design students. The group of graphic design students will be working on four different projects with the KNF. Yeom’s group is working on creating a booklet for refugees. “Newcomers [to South Africa] can get it,” Yeom said. “The booklet talks about shelters, places to go for help and how to get identification and housing documents.” Other groups are creating a children’s book to help the younger generation learn that refugees are not much different than they are, Yeom said. Each of the student groups will visit specific areas in South Africa to help them better understand the audiences they are trying to reach with their designs. “We are traveling to Johannesburg and … around the Pretoria region so we can identify the way the refugees go about getting identification documents,” Yeom said. Randazzo said she and her group will visit hospitals, such as the Baragwanath Hospital in the Soweto area of Johannesburg, to learn more about how refugees deal with healthcare. While the students are working on separate projects in their respective groups, toward the end of the week they will all come together to paint a mural. “We will bring the community together and paint a mural that indicates harmony and togetherness,” Yeom said. Contact Anna Boarini at [email protected]
During its first meeting Friday afternoon, the Campus Life Council (CLC) discussed several aspects of student life including dorm alcohol policies and mental health. Judicial Council president Michael Thomas said the new rector of Stanford Hall is enforcing a stricter alcohol policy in the dorm this year. “Stanford has done a 180-degree switch in alcohol policy,” Thomas said. The council also discussed the fairness of excluding undergraduate students from scholarly lectures and activities because alcohol is present for faculty and upperclassmen. The council also discussed the mental health resources available for students. Junior John Vernon said the group PILLARS, which stands for “Peers Inspiring Listening, Learning, and Responsible Socializing,” focuses on student health and related issues such as lack of sleep. Chief of staff Katie Baker said there is also a committee on campus that is dedicated to the examination of students at risk of dropping out of Notre Dame. One aspect of the committee’s job includes speaking to the student’s professors and rector in order to better assess the obstacles that may cause the student’s departure. “The panel has never been made public,” Baker said. “It’s a really important resource that should be publicized.” As the council members discussed the year ahead, Morrissey Manor rector Fr. Ron Vierling referenced the cutback in University services that came at the same time as a price increase in room and board. Vierling said one housekeeping staff covers four buildings on the weekends, and there has not been an increase in the number of workers being hired. “Cost cutting is impacting the quality of student life,” Fr. Ron said.
A recent study published by Notre Dame professors Brian Starks and Christian Smith found Catholics to be less generous givers than other Christians. Smith said the Catholic Church in the United States has great potential to accomplish good in the Church and in the world, but is often hampered by a lack of funds. Starks, director of Notre Dame’s Catholic Social and Pastoral Research Initiative (CSPRI), and Smith, co-founder of the initiative, came up with the idea for the study together, Starks said. “We knew from the larger body of social science research that Catholics giving to the Church, measured as a percentage of income donated, had been in decline for decades,” Starks said. The study looked specifically at whether respondents “regularly donate at least 10 percent of their income to religious, charitable, or other good causes,” and whether they donated to “solely religious causes” in the past twelve months, Starks said. John Cavadini, director of the Institute for Church Life, and Smith, who is also director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society, collaborated to form CSPRI in 2011 at Notre Dame, Sparks said. He said the group strives to use social science as a tool to challenge and strengthen the Catholic Church. “We knew that resource issues are an especially important concern for parishes and dioceses in their efforts toward faith formation, staff development, pastoral planning, etcetera,” Starks said. “So, we decided this study was especially appropriate for CSPRI.” Starks said when comparing Catholics to other Christians, he and Smith mainly focused on evangelical and mainline Protestants, who represented the groups with the largest number of respondents in their sample. The study uncovered that Catholics are, on average, less generous in voluntary financial giving than other Christian groups in the United States, Starks said. The median reported annual donation to the Church was only $175 for Catholics who gave, as compared to $588 for non-Catholic givers, he said. Starks said it is important to understand what are notkey reasons for Catholics being less generous. “It is not because they have less money to give – Catholics in our sample are slightly above the national average in terms of income,” Starks said. “Second, it is not because Catholics attend church less.” Instead, Starks credits a “lack of spiritual engagement with money” when explaining the lesser giving of Catholics. Without this engagement, Catholics tend to regard their use of money and material possessions as separate from matters of faith and spiritual life, he said. Based on their belief that increasing the spiritual engagement with money will increase donations, Starks said he and Smith explored different approaches to allow Catholic pastors and others to begin the discussion about money within their parishes. “We found that discussions of money in Catholic parishes should not center on meeting basic organizational needs, but rather on spiritual growth and personal world transformation,” Starks said. “Parish culture should help Catholics reflect on the dangers of compartmentalizing their financial dealings from their life of faith.” To that end, Starks said he and Smith recommend priests give homilies that discuss money while focusing on developing compassion or empathy and challenging materialistic values, which could then help Catholics to recognize the tie between their spiritual life and how they use their money and material possessions. Starks said if members of the Church are reminded that their donations represent something more than just helping fund the church, Starks and Smith believe giving will increase. “Most important of all, however, seems to be fostering parish cultures in which the use of money is not seen as a mere secular or profane matter, but, as the Bible teaches, a spiritual concern that God cares about, that shapes one’s personal spiritual life profoundly, and that can genuinely help transform the world along Christian values and purposes,” Starks said. The study helped to make clear the sociological reasoning behind the lesser generosity of Catholics, as well as uncover practical ways to increase giving, the researchers said. Starks and Smith said if Catholics can increase their giving, the Church will be able to succeed in thriving to their most prosperous state. “American Catholics learning to become much more financially generous would be truly revolutionary,” Smith said.
This weekend, Notre Dame students and graduates will interact and network at the Alumni Association Leadership Conference, held Thursday through Saturday. Featured speakers include Carolyn Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services and former dean of the Mendoza College of Business, and Gerry Faust, former Notre Dame football coach (1981-1985). Stephanie Mola, special event program director for the Alumni Association, said the conference gives Notre Dame graduates who acted as leaders in their classes, clubs or groups the opportunity to come back to campus for three days to and networking. “We were very fortunate this year in acquiring extremely dynamic speakers to address the group,” Mola said. University President Fr. John Jenkins, Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves, Vice President Lou Nanni, Irish coach Brian Kelly and Senior Associate Athletic Director John Heisler will address the conference participants, she said. Elle Metz, Young Alumni Programs Manager for the Alumni Association, said students will have the opportunity to interact directly with alumni during the conference. “The student-alumni social on Thursday night is an excellent opportunity for students to meet alumni from around the country,” Metz said. “In particular, they can interact and network with alumni from their current hometown or their future city of residence.” She said the atmosphere will be casual and conducive to mingling among members from all different sides of the Notre Dame community. In addition, Metz said the conference will host a student panel to help attendees get an inside look at the experiences of four different students at Notre Dame. “At the student-alumni social, students and alumni can connect over many different subjects, ranging from a suggestion for a parish in a new city to a job contact,” Metz said. The conference, open to all students and alumni, can also help students get advice from those who have travelled the same path before them, she said. “This is an excellent opportunity for students to learn what Notre Dame graduates are doing out in the world and to gather advice on their own life paths,” Metz said. Metz encouraged students interested in getting involved with their local Notre Dame club to visit myNotreDame.nd.edu/clublocator to find one near their city. “Once they join the club, there are multiple opportunities to get involved,” Metz said. “For example, they can attend club events like game watches and service projects.” Joining a Notre Dame club could also provide a job opportunity in the future, Metz said, as graduates are able to serve as Young Alumni Coordinators who help plan club programs. Metz said the University encourages all members of the Notre Dame family, even parents and friends, to get involved with their local Notre Dame club. Contact Meg Handelman at [email protected]
Applications are now open for Spark for Women Visual Arts (SPARK-Art), a 12-week program sponsored by the Saint Mary’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI) that helps South Bend-area women looking to turn their artistic skills into a business. This program supplements WEI’s SPARK program, which is in its fifth year, WEI director Martha Smith said. Smith said most artists end up pursuing art as a side job and do not treat their talent as a full-fledged business. “SPARK-Art intends to change this situation by guiding these women in creating a business plan, implementing marketing [and] promotional materials, and providing them with general success strategies designed specifically for visual artists,” she said. Smith said SPARK was originally a pilot program formerprofessor Susan Vance based on the San Francisco’s Women Initiative (WI). After meeting with the CEO of WI, Staci Lugar Brettin, an entrepreneurship expert, Smith said Vance tweaked the San Francisco curriculum to create a version that was applicable to the South Bend community. “Susan did not want to reinvent the wheel and searched for the best model in the country,” Smith said. “She found it in San Francisco’s Women Initiative (WI). Thereafter, several community members joined Professor Vance’s vision and brought the program to life.” Sheryl Kosovki, a mentor with Artful Work, will be the one facilitators of this new program, Smith said. Kosovki coaches creative entrepreneurs, artists and designers on becoming successful commercial artists. “I have been teaching entrepreneurs how to make a living for the past 20 years and recently started my own consulting business, so it was a perfect fit,” Kosovki said. Students of SPARK-Art will gain all the skills needed to succesfully run their businesses, Kosovki said. That will include not only the hard skills, such as bookkeeping, but also how to manage their fears and how to visualize success, she said. “Some of these women have run on hard times, so imagining success is quite challenging,” Kosovki said. “And if they can’t see that they can succeed, they won’t.” SPARK-Art is open to all artists and designers, Kosovki said. This includes graphic designers, interior designers and fine artists. It will also include some people who intend to start for-profit art galleries, Kosovki said. The program’s average age is 42, Smith said, but participants range in age from 24 to 70. By focusing on this new branch of the SPARK program, WEI will focus on women artists and help them to become successful independent business owners, Smith said. There was a need for a course that approaches the business aspect in a more creative, visual manner, similar to these talented artists’ thinking processes, Smith said. Kosovki said mentors and the “Rekindle the Flame” program support the artists. “Rekindle the Flame” is a program that continues the support the entrepreneurs need after the 12 weeks are over, Kosovki said. Women meet once a month to support one another and to gainwhatever technical skills they still lack. After looking closely at South Bend in particular, Kosovki said she noticed the community was having a hard time supporting local artists. “If we can get a lot more artists around in the community … then [the] community can succeed in regards to arts because they’ll be out there and people can begin to understand art a little bit better and its role in the community,” she said. Contact Alex Winegar at [email protected]
Saint Mary’s Campus Ministry sponsored a lecture Wednesday by 1984 alumna Allison Sturm about how to be passionately pro-life and to have compassion for those who have experienced an abortion.Sturm began her talk in the student center with a prayer, in which she asked God to promote compassion toward those who have dealt with abortion.“I pray for all of the unborn children, for their mothers, for their fathers, and I pray for those who are wounded by abortion, that You will place someone in their path, Lord, that will bring them to Your love and mercy,” Sturm said.Sturm said a woman facing an abortion undergoes a lot of pain and most women choose abortion because they do not think they have any other choice. Even though an abortion might free the woman from immediate trauma, it often produces relentless guilt for choosing her own comfort over the life of her child, Sturm said.“Can we look beyond the obvious tragedy of abortion to see the pain [of] the individual, the mercy of God and His forgiveness of all sin?” she said.In order to respond to abortion, Catholics must first pray, Sturm said.“We ask God for an open heart, and we ask to be ready for opportunities where people might come to you because you want to lead them to restore their relationship with God,” Sturm said.Since it is difficult for someone to imagine being presented with the decision of whether or not to get an abortion, Sturm said she encourages people to suspend their speculation and judgment and instead embrace the individual.“If someone shares this pain with you, hold it in confidence as a precious gift,” she said. “Hold it like you would hold that child that has been lost.”Sturm said people should embrace those who are suffering with kindness.“We need to respect those whose lives are broken by this sin and who still struggle to find healing,” she said. “They may not be open to the truth that there is forgiveness because they are not able to look beyond the feeling of condemnation to heal. Many believe that they could not possibly be loved if anyone found out about this part of their life. So they continue to endure their suffering in silence, and their lives remain broken.”Catholics boldly proclaim that all life is sacred, Sturm said, but they must also vocally declare that no sin is beyond God’s mercy.“God uses us to bring His love and mercy to those in despair,” she said. “Could I or could you be that voice that offers the truth that there is no sin too big to be forgiven by God? Could my compassion, or yours, help propel someone who is holding onto guilt and shame to take a brave step towards healing?“If God has done this time after time for all of us, how could we not extend the same love and mercy towards others?”Tags: Abortion, Pro-life, theology on fire
John Gordon, vice president of marketing and strategy at IBM’s Watson Solutions Divisions said the question at IBM right now is: how do we start applying technology to solve problems, creating something meaningful that would have an impact on people’s lives?Gordon spoke Friday in Jordan Auditorium at the Mendoza College of Business as part of a one-credit course called “Notre Dame Ten Years Hence Speaker Series: The Future of Energy” that brings speakers to campus who will explore issues, ideas and trends likely to affect society in the next decade. Gordon’s is the fourth lecture in the series.Gordon is a graduate of Notre Dame in philosophy and computer science who has been working in the technology world since receiving his MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.In his speech, Gordon discussed the future of computer systems and software — how it is changing and how it is expected to change over the next decade.“With the help of 400,000 employees, we focus on innovation that matters to us and the world”, Gordon said.He said their goal is to push the world forward and show dedication to every client’s success.“IBM is unique in that we have a sense of trust and personal responsibility in all relationships, which greatly helps us develop professional relationships and push past problems,” Gordon said.Gordon said the world is at the initial cusp of a new era of computing: the cognitive area of computing, which will have profound effects on the opportunities available for people and businesses.“Instead of building machines to do what we want, we want to build machines that we can tell what to do.” Gordon said.He said the goal of IBM is to create a system that learns and grows by experience.“We want to create a system that augments human cognition — systems that don’t just give output but explain it,” Gordon said.He said this system would encompass a whole new system of reasoning that can help us figure out what is out there. Gordon said it would be able to evaluate all possible responses in hundreds of thousands of ways, and as it grows in experience, it will learn and become more precise.“These systems could lead to breakthroughs in many different areas — medicine, environmental issues, etcetera,” Gordon said. “As the entire spectrum grows, the industry will grow and will continue to inspire us in different ways.”Tags: Ten Years Hence
The 2013-14 Notre Dame Forum on Women in Leadership brought a panel of experts to discuss the role of women in the life of the Catholic Church on Thursday night.The panel, moderated by NBC News chief environmental correspondent Anne Thompson, featured Kathleen Sprows Cummings, director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism; Fr. Matt Malone, editor-in-chief of ‘America;’ Kerry Alys Robinson, executive director of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management; Annie Selak, lay minister and rector of Walsh Hall and Sister Ann Astell, professor of theology.This year, the annual forum series focused on women in leadership roles throughout a variety of institutions. A discussion of the role of women in the Church, in particular, is one that is incredibly crucial and timely, especially in light of recent comments made by Pope Francis on the issue, University President Fr. John Jenkins said.“[Pope Francis] has spoken on a number of occasions about the distinctive role of women in the life of the Church in various forms of witness, ministry and leadership,” Jenkins said. “While not envisioning the ordination of women, he has called for greater study of and reflection on women’s role in the Church, and particularly in the exercise of authority in the Church.”Robinson affirmed the openness of both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict to providing women a greater role in Church leadership. The church suffers when women, particularly American women, see they cannot hold strong leadership roles, she said.“When a young, Catholic woman, especially from the West, looks out at the landscape of her professional life, she knows that she can attain the highest levels of leadership in any sector or industry,” she said. “And when that same woman discerns the vocation of service to the Church she loves, often she is met with limitations on bringing the full complement of her skills and abilities.“And frequently that intuition and instinct leads her to spend her professional life … in the secular world. The church is impoverished when that happens.”Providing women with these roles will not only serve the Church’s women, but the Church itself, Selak said.“I think it would really revolutionize not just women’s roles in the Church, but men’s roles, and we’d really come to regard the universal call to holiness in an entirely new light,” she saidCummings said this change in women’s leadership roles in the Catholic Church does not have to start in Vatican City; it can start with the actions of women in their own parishes.“There are many ways that women can exercise leadership at every level of the Church government,” she said. “…Women are already exercising leadership.”Malone affirmed the role of women in the Church is an important one. He said solely discussing the ordination of women ignores the work that can be done to strengthen roles that women already hold in the Church or that women can hold without ordination.“A lot of people perceive that the reason why the Holy Orders is restricted to men is a product of patriarchy and sexism, and I think that it would be a lot easier for a lot of people to believe that that weren’t true if … every other office that doesn’t require ordination employed women,” he said.Tags: Catholic church, Church leadership, Forum, Notre Dame Forum, women in leadership, women in the Church
Chelsey Fattal | The Observer College students write messages of support combatting a hateful message written on Maranda Pennington’s white board.Pennington said she was shocked when she found the message, especially because she has gained confidence in her ability to speak out about LGBTQ issues on campus.“My goal this year was to help make Saint Mary’s a more inclusive and welcoming place for all people,” Pennington said. “I was angry and hurt, but my emotions didn’t cloud the fact that this was an opportunity for our community to rally together against homophobia and hate speech in general.”The College’s administration addressed the situation the following day in a school-wide email in which Karen Johnson, vice president of student affairs, said the College will not tolerate aggression. She said the act was harassment and a direct violation of the College’s Code of Student Conduct and the Discriminatory Harassment Policy.“As a Catholic institution, Saint Mary’s College holds its students to a high standard of ethical and moral conduct,” Johnson said in the email. “Consequently, there is a strong emphasis on self-awareness and a distinct consideration for the lives and feelings of others. The College commits itself to maintaining a safe and welcoming environment where each individual’s dignity is upheld and differences are celebrated. As a community, we reject and condemn all forms of harassment, wrongful discrimination and disrespect.”Pennington said she is thankful for the way administration responded.“The administration has been nothing but compassionate and supportive this week,” she said. “I hope that this continues into making more resources available for LGBTQ students on campus.”Pennington said this incident was a reminder that though the climate has been improving, there is a lot of work left to do to gain full LGBTQ acceptance.“My goal for Saint Mary’s is to have an LGBTQ resource center on campus that has properly trained staff and is well-advertised,” she said. “I have been so pleased with the administration and student response this week, but merely denouncing the hateful vandalism will not change anything at the end of the day.“All I have been thinking about since Wednesday is, what if this happened to a closeted student who didn’t feel safe speaking out on social media?” she said. “Would they know who they could go to? Would they feel comfortable reporting it? Would anyone ever hear about it? Probably not. Hate has not been eradicated from campus; most of the time we just don’t hear about it. The bottom line is, we need to do more to protect the safety and mental health of LGBTQ students. A lot of this can be done through education and empathy.”Pennington’s Facebook post received 96 shares and several hundred “likes” and comments. Junior Alaina Anderson submitted the story to Huffington Post’s “Unicorn of the Week” series, which is an award recognizing people who do something positive for the LGBTQ community. Pennington was chosen as this week’s unicorn.“Watching a video of a complete stranger talking about my response to the vandalism was surreal,” Pennington said. “I am extremely grateful for the recognition, and it gives me the motivation to do more to challenge homophobia in the future.”Other student responses included a number of students posting uplifting and supportive messages that said “Stay You” on Pennington’s door.“The amount of support I have received on social media and in person has been overwhelming,” Pennington said. “I am incredibly lucky to have such high quality people in my life.”Tags: hate speech, homophobia, Huffington Post, LGBTQ, saint mary’s When Saint Mary’s junior Maranda Pennington came home to a message written in permanent marker on her white board that told her to “leave” and contained a homophobic slur, she posted the message on Facebook with a caption saying she would stand her ground.“You not only attacked my identity but my right to exist openly on this campus,” she said in the Facebook post. “ … I hope one day you will be able to love and respect others even when they’re different from you. Until then, I just thought you should know that I’m not afraid of you and I’m not going anywhere.”